Sixth Chair, The
HIGHLIGHTS SUCH PROBLEMS IN EDUCATION AS BUILDING CONSTRUCTION & MODERNIZATION, CLASS SIZE, MORE TEACHERS & UP-TO-DATE EDUCATIONAL TOOLS. PORTRAYS DANGERS OF PUBLIC COMPLACENCY TOWARD EDUCATION.
Ken Smith sez: This is a film about overcrowded schools -- a real problem in the opening years of the post-war baby boom. A zealous, melodramatic narrator ("I'm 'The People'," he explains) tells us that "good schools will help keep America free," and tries to convince us to spend more of our tax dollars on new and improved classroom facilities. A forum of five "average Americans" debate the merits of this issue; someone occasionally speaks from an empty sixth chair, but it's only "the voice of complacency," so it's safely ignored. Lots of footage of overcrowded elementary schools.
American flag waving in breeze; Capitol building; suburban homes; doctor examining child; boy scouts and scoutmaster raising flags; children climbing onto school bus; playgrounds; monkey bars; montage of Americans at work, play and churchgoing. an empty table in a school; mother bringing little boy to school. home building; tenements, lines of laundry hanging to dry
Many scenes of school overcrowding: cafeteria; school room; gym class; Various scenes of "modern" classrooms; home economics rooms; student laboratories;
"We cannot meet the complexities of modern life with outmoded school systems. We must keep our educational standards abreast of the swift-moving times in which we live if we hope to preserve our national heritage. Our American way of life."
anti-communism: "Foreign 'isms' are like germs. They can't attack a healthy body." "Freedom is subject to attack from the inside as well as out. It's hard to get people to sense danger, just as it's hard to get people out to vote." "Would you willingly go to a place day after day that depressed you? That made you feel unwelcome because there wasn't room for you? . . .Then we shouldn't expect our children to either." "Good schools will keep America free."
American flag waving
Military parade. Close ranks of marching soldiers.
Crowd on street waving American flags and cheering.
CU many marching soldiers
U.S. Capitol Building
Drive through suburbia
Doctor and nurse examine little boy's ear
Fat boy scout leader and scouts raise and take down American flag from pole with Washington Monument in background.
Children in playground and on jungle gym.
Children cross street to school.
Independence Hall, Philadelphia
City skyscrapers with ferry boat in foreground (New York? Chicago?)
Field of waving wheat
New York Yankees
Family in living room
Worker in factory over machine
Church service in cathedral
School board meeting around table. They talk about freedom and the American way. People disappear leaving empty chairs, then they magically reappear.
Mother walks child to school.
Parent and child in dark school hallway. Mother knocks on classroom door.
Overcrowded classrooms. Children trying to share desks. Overcrowded hallways.
Carpenters building houses
City slums with laundry hanging on lines.
Poor children skipping rope on sidewalk in front of tenement
Children doing gymnastics in gymnasium. It is very crowded.
Girl with tray of food in crowded school cafeteria cannot find a seat
High school students seated in classroom grab books and scramble for next class.
High school kids scramble for books at lockers in crowded hallways
Boy drinks from hall water fountain which is much too low and leaks into a bucket.
Pan of class of high school students (many dim bulbs here).
Children on playground swings take turns
Teacher hands out books to class
Model of ideal school room. Science labs. Home economics room. Before and after shots.
High school girls in sewing class
High school orchestra rehearsal.
Students in classroom watch movie projected onto screen
Students in science lab.
EDUCATION SCHOOLS BUILDING CONSTRUCTION MODERNIZATION CLASSROOMS TEACHERS STUDENTS MEDIA AUDIOVISUAL TEXTBOOKS PUBLIC POLICY ECONOMICS POLITICS SOCIAL SCIENCE
Subject: Just What I'm Looking For
Subject: Old fashioned but lots of true facts
Subject: And these are the nerds!
Best scene: Some kids turn out all right, and some others get lost in the system! And HERE THEY ARE! LOL Most of them are all wearing glasses and might as well have "nerd" written on a sign for us.
Subject: I see dumb people...
The film opens with the typical zealous narrator defining the problems facing schools, primarily dark and overcrowded schools. The main part of the film is taken up by a representative meeting, which each role having taking on an icon role. We have the foreign born American, represented here a man with a vaguely Italian or Greek accent, a housewife, a businessman, a farmer and a doctor, with the eponymous sixth chair empty, representing the apathetic.
1950's American world view is all over this film. All the students are White. Communism is bad and a threat to the American way of life. Women's education is defined by taking care of the domestic sphere. Children drop out and become deliquent because of poor school facilities. The solution proposed by the film is mainly to build new facilities that are "modern" or remodel the dark and brokendown schoolhouses. In addition, the role of vocational and moral education in the school experience, along with teacher centered instructional methods. The narrator enthuses equally about bright lighting and posture enhancing seating.
Yet, there are still elements in this film that Americans have not really taken to heart. Along with the modern facilities, they talk about honoring teaching as a profession, by showing support and making sure they have adquate pay. If anything, that part of the equation has deteriorted in the last 50 some years since this film was made. The film also urges the community to take an active interest in what is going on within the schools, noting that improved eduction is an indicator of better success in life. This also remains very true. Yet, Americans continue to have a very myoptic view of the education system, either feeling like their particular school is fine or it is not issue that is worth their interest or tax dollars.
While the film proposes solutions that are no longer relavent to today's world, the basic approach suggested is something that should become wider known.